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Archive for August, 2007

what if madge were a chicana?
You’re Soaking in it, pen and ink doodle on graph paper, doodle © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.



Madge: Ei, alá, you’re so-king in it…

Client: ¡Chale! ¿De véras?

Madge: Sí, hombre, te digo la verdad.

Client: ¡Oralé! ¿Qué pasó? Was there a ganga at Dollar Store?

Madge: Bitche, how did you know??



-Inspired by Topic post, Cleanliness.
-Related to post, Everything I Know About Cleaning I Learned From My Mother.

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BookMark, Minneapolis Central Library, downtown Mnneapolis, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

BookMark, Minneapolis Central Library, downtown Minneapolis, through the rain, August 2007, opened May 2006, architecture by the design team of Cesar Pelli & Associates, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Time for another decade of bestselling books. At the end of the 1960’s, gas was 39¢ a gallon, a 1962 Jaguar XKE would set you back $4,500, and James Bond in Goldfinger grossed $23 million at the box office. Twiggy was big (I just saw her flash by the TV screen last night on America’s Top Model), along with hiphuggers, bellbottoms, collarless Nehru jackets, and cashmere turtlenecks.

People were buzzing about Foster Grants, Duncan yo-yo’s, new math, Dolby noise reduction, macrame, K-Mart, the Twist, the Chicago 8, draft dodgers, Teflon, and St. Louis’s Gateway arch, the world’s tallest monument.

The American 60’s were turbulent, violent, optimistic, free loving, and slow moving. If it was your generation you were either hip, jock, rock, or nerd. If it wasn’t, well, it lives on in the mythology that surrounds it.

The 60’s were big enough to hold Capote, Sontag, Kesey, Plath, Robbins, Baldwin, Ginsberg, Puzo, Hailey, Vonnegut, Nin, Miller, Didion, and Vidal. You can tell a lot about a person by the books they read. You can also tell a lot about a culture. In the 1960’s, for better or worse, here’s what America was reading.



1 9 6 0 ‘ s – B E S T S E L L E R S

F I C T I O N

  1. The Agony and the Ecstasy, Irving Stone
  2. Franney and Zooey, J. D. Salinger
  3. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  4. The Winter of Our Discontent, John Steinbeck
  5. The Reivers, William Faulkner
  6. Dearly Beloved, Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  7. The Shoes of the Fisherman, Morris L. West
  8. Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters, and Seymour–An Introduction, J. D. Salinger
  9. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John Le Carré
  10. Up the Down Staircase, Bel Kaufman
  11. The Man with the Golden Gun, Ian Fleming
  12. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann
  13. All in the Family, Edwin O’Connor
  14. The Adventurers, Harold Robbins
  15. The Confessions of Nat Turner, William Styron
  16. The Chosen, Chaim Potok
  17. The Exhibitionist, Henry Sutton
  18. Airport, Arthur Hailey
  19. The Salzburg Connection, Helen MacInnes
  20. The Tower of Babel, Morris L. West
  21. Preserve and Protect, Allen Drury
  22. Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth
  23. The Godfather, Mario Puzo
  24. The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton
  25. Naked Came the Stranger, Penelope Ashe
  26. The House on the Strand, Daphne du Maurier
  27. The Love Machine, Jacqueline Susann
  28. Myra Breckinridge, Gore Vidal
  29. Christy, Catherine Marshall
  30. The Pretenders, Gwen Davis


 

Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

           Minneapolis Central Library, looking straight up, through the rain,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, August 2007, opened May 2006, architecture
by the design team of Cesar Pelli & Associates, photo © 2007 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




1 9 6 0 ‘ s – B E S T S E L L E R S

N O N F I C T I O N

  1. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer
  2. The Conscience of a Conservative, Barry Goldwater
  3. I Kid You Not, Jack Paar
  4. Between You, Me and the Gatepost, Pat Boone
  5. Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book
  6. Calories Don’t Count, Dr. Herman Taller
  7. Sex and the Single Girl, Helen Gurley Brown
  8. Travels with Charley, John Steinbeck
  9. The Joy of Cooking: New Edition, Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
  10. Security Is a Thumb and a Blanket, Charles M. Schulz
  11. I Owe Russia $1200, Bob Hope
  12. Profiles in Courage: Memorial Edition, John F. Kennedy
  13. In His Own Write, John Lennon
  14. Reminiscences, General Douglas MacArthur
  15. A Moveable Feast, Ernest Hemingway
  16. A Day in the Life of President Kennedy, Jim Bishop
  17. How To Be a Jewish Mother, Dan Greenburg
  18. A Gift of Prophecy, Ruth Montgomery
  19. A Thousand Days, Arthur Schlesinger Jr.
  20. The Making of the President, 1964, Theodore H. White
  21. How to Avoid Probate, Norman F. Dacey
  22. In Cold Blood, Truman Capote
  23. Phyllis Diller’s Housekeeping Hints, Phyllis Diller
  24. Misery Is a Blind Date, Johnny Carson
  25. Death of a President, William Manchester
  26. Edgar Cayce–The Sleeping Prophet, Jess Stearn
  27. The Weight Watcher’s Cook Book, Jean Nidetch
  28. The Peter Principle, Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull
  29. My Life and Prophecies, Jeane Dixon with René Noorberger
  30. Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs, Linda Goodman

 

 

-posted on red Ravine, Thursday, August 30th, 2007

-Resources:  1960’s Bestsellers List at Cader BooksWriter’s Dream Tools, and The Friends of the Minneapolis Public Library

-related to posts: The 1950’s — What Was America Reading?, The 1970’s —  What Was America Reading?

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i saw a crane today
A Room with a View, downtown San Jose, CA, August 30, 2007, photo ©
2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Arriving San Jose, August 29, 2007, photo © 2007 by ybonesy, all rights reserved.
Arriving San Jose, CA, August 29, 2007, photo © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.


I don’t know if it’s my cell phone camera, the older airplane, or San Jose, but something about this photo reminds me of a bygone era.

We’re staying in downtown San Jose. I love it.

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QuoinMonkey has been sick since the wee hours of Monday morning. Bless her heart. I’m traveling right now, and I wanted to see if I had a doodle stored in my computer that might be a good omen for her to get better. Alas, I had nothing. Well, except for an apple shot I took on Monday evening.

Sorry, QM, it’s not very get-well-oriented, but at least it’s an apple, and you know what they say about apples. Unfortunately, it’s out of focus, but I feel a bit that way myself when you’re out of sorts. So, get well, my friend. There are things-on-sticks awaiting your tastebuds.


apple out of focus

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I have a picture in my head of Mom. She’s wearing soft denim shorts to just above her knees. Her hair is in curlers, a red bandana tied around the curlers, a cigarette on her lip. Next to her, on the floor, is a flat metal ashtray, the kind that folds like tin when you bend it. We are both sitting on a rug in front of the TV. She’s watching Another World. Mom likes the plain-looking older woman, Ada, but not Rachel, Ada’s daughter. I’m not allowed to talk while the action is taking place; fortunately, commercials come on every few minutes.

Mom watches Another World every day at this hour, shortly before our nap and right after our lunch. She only superficially follows As the World Turns and General Hospital. General Hospital is the hottest thing going on in soap opera drama, but Mom has never been one to follow trends. It is Ada and Rachel she is faithful to.

This particular day Mom has a basket of clothing by her side, and like one of those chowders you buy nowadays that comes in a bowl made of bread, Mom’s basket of clothing never seems to get all the way down to the bottom. She folds, smokes, watches TV. Smokes, watches TV, folds again.

I have had this memory before, and in it Mom is sometimes watching something other than Another World. One time it is John F. Kennedy’s assassination or funeral, I’m not sure which, although I do know I would have been too young to remember either. Yet, the details of that memory are especially acute: the orange cotton jumper Mom is folding, the one she sewed herself for Janet. The white hard plastic of the laundry basket. The cold tiles on the floor where my hand rests. What it is about that spot? Did we sit there often?

I am always young in my memory of that place, as is Mom. We are both earnest, both willing to be the best we can be at our respective roles. Mom is still willing to take her laundry basket with her to wherever she goes to sit; she still folds the clothes into piles while smoking her cigarettes and watching her soap. She is still kind to me, making me lunch, trying to show me the ways of moms.

Later on, in a newer house, she will keep all the clothes in a basket underneath the ironing board perpetually set up, but rarely used, in the master bedroom. The basket will get so full of clean clothes that a second one will be employed. All my clothes and those of my sister and brother will be stuffed into those two baskets, shirts on top of socks, pants on top of shirts, occasionally a set of clean sheets or a bedspread thrown on top of the entire heap. By the time any of us pulls out an item to wear, it will be so wrinkled from the weight of every other item that no amount of ironing, not even with steam nor the spray of a water bottle, will take out the indentations that soon become the hallmark of our fashion.

By then I will be sassy and sarcastic towards Mom. I will snarl at her, call her names, become an unruly teenager. I will throw a bottle of nail polish at her when she makes a snide comment about my boyfriend. But in that one long-ago memory, the one where Mom and I sit on the floor together, I watch her with big eyes. I notice how well she maneuvers her many devices — the television, the clothes, her cigarettes, the ashtray. I love everything about her, especially her smell, which I now realize is exactly the scent of clean laundry.

I wonder what it is about folding clothes that repeats itself, like a little ballerina doing pirouettes in my mind. Why not washing dishes or dusting, or scrubbing floors on her hands and knees? Mom wasn’t the kind of housewife who wore an apron. She didn’t whistle while she worked, nor did she sing. Mom didn’t buy into brand names — Tide and Palmolive (“you’re soaking in it!”). She called all powder disinfectant cleaners “Ajax,” even when she bought Comet. (Comet…it makes you vomit…so buy Comet, and vomit, too-dayyy…)

When I think of Mom and cleaning, I think of conflict. I think of anger and resentment. She hated to clean. She was so impatient she wouldn’t even allow us to clean. “I’ll make your beds, just get out of my hair,” she told us. Mom was a nervous wreck (her words) when I was growing up. She had too many kids, and eventually things started to happen. Teen pregnancy, drugs, smoking, drinking.

She wasn’t a controlling woman; she only cared that things were “clean enough.” But cleaning was just one more chore she never really wanted to sign up for. Mom was happiest when she was sitting over coffee with Tomasita from across the street or playing poker with her friends or watching her soap opera.

Maybe that’s why this particular memory of folding clothes while watching TV comes to me again and again. And this, always this: She asks me to go get her a glass of water. I jump up and run to the kitchen. There on the counter is an open package of windmill cookies with almond slivers. I take a piece of a broken cookie, put it my mouth and let it melt while I fill up her glass. It is quiet in the house for once, just the sound of breathy voices coming from the television, and that stark sensation that daytime TV produces. While the the rest of the world is out doing what they do and Mom is here with me, doing what it is we do.

-Based on a ten-minute practice from Topic Post, Cleanliness.

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By Joanne Hunt


Agnes Martin Room, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, August 2007, photo © 2007 by Kevin Moul. All rights reserved.
Agnes Martin Room, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, August 2007, photo © 2007 by Kevin Moul. All rights reserved.


Dear Agnes,

I’m back in Taos. It’s February and as I slow-walked from Mabel Dodge this afternoon, I scuffed through snow still lying on the ground. I’ve paid my seven dollars to gain entry to the Harwood Museum but all I will visit today is you. I feel at home in this octagonal room. The four yellow wood benches clustered under the skylight in the center; simple in their symmetry. The horizontal golden hardwood planks that run across the floor soothe and ground your work. I am, as ever, stunned by the seven linen canvases that surround me.

I am sitting in my usual place on the floor leaned against the white wall next to the absent eighth wall that forms the canopied entrance. I am wearing my faded black cotton pants and shirt. I don’t think you’ve seen me in anything but black. Few people have. I have been doing sitting practice in the zendo at Mabel’s for many hours today. I feel still and wide and ready for you.

As I look out at your paintings, these incredible 5’ X 5’ canvasses of pale blue and white, I am both deeply content and anguished. I won’t be back to visit for awhile – probably not until December. It is a difficult good bye because I have been coming here every three months for a year. I’ve gotten used to these trips to the Harwood. Like a trip to a favourite church or synagogue where you can sit forever in some form of prayer or communion. Silent. Unmoving. This room is as familiar to me as the zendo in my own home. This is my sixth visit and I am still awed to sit here.

It has been three years since that first November afternoon when I walked into this room, felt my lungs contract and my body hit the floor as my knees buckled. Gasping and wide eyed I looked around the room, overcome with emotion. I crawled over to this spot against the wall and carefully gazed out while steadying my shaking body. I have never had a painter’s work strike me so deeply. Each time I come here to sit and write, I can feel myself preparing to walk again into this room. Each time you hold a mirror up to me. Like an aunt who sees her niece once a year and registers how much she’s grown in a way that parents can’t. I see myself and where my writing is during each visit here. With each trip to Taos, this room is my Writer’s barometer.

I don’t want to leave Taos. I don’t want to head home. I have let my life get fuzzy. Cluttered up. Too much. Too full. When I get back to Ottawa, I am going to clear out some of the piles to make room. I am not sure what I am making room for but I will do it anyway. I want to live cleanly like you. Clear. Crisp. No distractions. I want to live directly. Single-pointed. Nothing extra.

Agnes, is there anything you want to tell me?


 Ordinary Happiness, Taos, New Mexico, crop of an Agnes Martin Painting, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Ordinary Happiness, crop of Agnes Martin painting, Ordinary Happiness, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Yes, Joanne
You can do it.

Don’t be so hard on yourself and be ruthless too. I threw out all my early paintings and I never regretted it. I hadn’t found my form. I needed to clear everything out. Some art is going to have to die in your book in order to bring clarity. Don’t be afraid to get rid of stuff.

Don’t be afraid to move to smaller canvases.
Don’t make excuses.
Don’t explain.
Don’t justify.
Do what you need to do.

Not everyone will love your art. Some people don’t like mine. They just see stripes. Oh, and by the way, they are just stripes. Don’t make them such a big deal.

They’re No Big Deal and they’re a Very Big Deal.
Both.

Just like how you wrote the two sides of your aspiration on the altar in the zendo this week. On one side of your folded piece of paper: No Big Deal. On the other side: Very Big Deal. You got it right. It is always both.

Joanne, blue is a happy colour. Now I know that makes you want to cry because you’re not very good at being happy yet. You’ll get better. All these things you already have:

Lovely Life
Love
Friendship
Perfect Day
Ordinary Happiness
Innocence
Playing

These are not just the names of the seven paintings. These things are present in your life. Right now. Blue is an ordinary, happy colour.

Ordinary Happiness is the kind of happiness I’m talking to you about. The wild kind of happiness comes and goes. It rolls in and out like a storm. Ordinary Happiness has staying power.

You have kept coming to visit me all these years in your travels to Taos; you have sat and written in this room of rounded edges and light in the middle. You can go now. I’m inside you. You don’t have to wonder about when you’ll be back to visit. You can visit anytime. Even in the middle of teaching. I am not separate from you.

Joanne, I want to speak directly to your search for something bigger. You have been troubled about what you call your “lack of faith.” I know that you want to rest in something bigger than you, trust something bigger than you and be held by something bigger than you. I think that’s good. It is good to be open and available to wider sources. But know this: You’re the one who has to get up and go to your desk each day. Trusting in something bigger than you does not bring you to your writing. You do. That bigger thing might meet you once you’re sitting there but it is does not provide the motivation or the propulsion. It meets you. You need to be ready. Like when you’re settled into the belly of your writing and Big Mind is flowing out of you so clearly, effortlessly, not seeking anything while your hand moves across the page for hours. You can trust that.

Did you hear me?
You can trust that.

Is that outside of you?
Or inside of you?
Is that that bigger than you?
Or just you?

It doesn’t matter. That’s not your concern. What matters is that you write. What matters is that you show up and wait to see what shows up to meet you.

I once sat still every day for three months waiting for an inspiration to arrive. Three months. Every day I waited. Still. Silent. I didn’t know if it would come or not. I didn’t have faith that it would come or not. It was my job to sit and wait. It came and I painted again. But I might not have. And that’s not the point – whether I ended up painting again or not – the point is that I knew what my job was. So: I did it.

It doesn’t have to do with faith, Joanne. It has to do with knowing that you’re a Writer. That’s your job. To show up and write. You get inspired. You use words to express it. I got an inspiration. I painted. You write, as truly as possible, to capture that inspiration. I painted to do the same.

Not in a tight way. But in a true way.

There’s math involved. And calculations. And measurements. And elegance. And simplicity. In the form and in the math. It isn’t all soft and mushy. There’s discipline and rigour and study and figuring it out but it is held in a soft hand. Clear. Steady.

I led a disciplined life, some say, like a Zen monk. I don’t know about all of that. I didn’t need much. None of us do. My paintings sold for more than a half a million dollars each. You are surrounded by $3.5 million dollars worth of art. Isn’t that something? How can Lovely Life be worth that much? Yet, should it be worth $20 million or $150 million or $50 bucks for the canvas?

That was not my job so I don’t know anything about those things. I tried to capture inspiration. Life is filled with beauty. Can you see it? Can you touch the beauty in your own life?

You are living too full up right now. Don’t despair. You can change it. One step. Then another. Sometimes I had too much too. It’s okay. Just start changing it each day. It won’t take long.

Pull out Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind to remember why you chose this path.

I never stopped painting because I never stopped receiving inspiration. You will never stop writing and listening to music. You and music do have a special bond. It serves you well. And you hear well. Keep listening.

Spend more time in silence.
Walk more. While you can.

And don’t worry so much. It will all go fine because “fine” includes everything – all the stuff we call good or bad. It’s just stuff. It is being human. That’s all. You get to be a human so you get to have the stuff that human beings call good or bad. Don’t worry. You’ll get all the stuff that humans are supposed to get. That’s our true nature.

Let it come. Receive it. And let it pass. Don’t cling to it. The happiness or the sadness. Just notice the inspiration. Both inspire. That’s all.

There is just the living of a life and knowing that is what you are doing. A living of a life. So pay attention.

Top of mountain.
Middle of mountain.
Bottom of mountain.

Doesn’t matter. No need to decide.
The mountain will find you.

Take good care of yourself,
Agnes Martin



Agnes Martin, crop of Agnes Martin photo, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, July 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.About Agnes Martin, Joanne says: She was Canadian born in Maklin, Saskatchewan on March 22, 1912 and died in December 2004 at the age of 92 in Taos, New Mexico. She lived most of her last decades in Taos painting (or waiting for inspiration) until the end; she was dedicated to capturing the beauty in life.

Agnes said, ‘My paintings are about quiet happiness like the lightness of the morning…I look in my mind and I see composition.’ It is her simple clarity that left such an impression on me. I think that you have to have a really clean relationship with The Mind to paint the way she did. I want to write that way.


About this piece, Joanne says:  I was compelled to write a good-bye letter to Agnes that day in the Harwood at the end of a year long Writing Intensive. I asked her if she had anything to tell me. I thought that the response would be to sit in silence for awhile. I was surprised when I immediately drew a line on the page and my pen kept moving as the letter from Agnes emerged. It was calm and clear. I guess there were a few things she wanted me to know. I got out of the way and wrote until she was done. It came and went so easily. I slow-walked back to the zendo at Mabel’s that afternoon and read it aloud during our Reading Group. I was quite shocked. I still am.



Revisiting Agnes, Harwood Museum, Taos, New Mexico, August 2007, photo © 2007 by Kevin Moul. All rights reserved.About Joanne:  Joanne just returned from an August trip to Taos where she got to surprise Agnes with another visit. Kevin Moul stumbled upon Joanne sitting in her usual place on the floor writing and took the photos of her there.

Besides sitting for hours on the floor of an art gallery channelling Agnes, Joanne is the founder of an Integral Coaching® Training School in Ottawa, Canada with her partner and beloved wife, Laura. You can read some of her Perspectives and Articles in the Resources section of their web site at Integral Coaching Canada. She is ruthlessly working on her first book while trying to write more in coffee shops rather than pubs where her libation of choice is a Guinness. She is Irish after all.


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, August 27th, 2007

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